Youmans (pronounced like 'yeoman' with an 's' added) is the best-kept secret among contemporary American writers. --John Wilson, ed., Books and Culture. / New at patreon.

Friday, January 25, 2013

There is no other village

One of the vignettes from Thaliad,
by Welsh artist Clive Hicks-Jenkins.
My Thaliad page.
Phoenicia Publishing Thaliad page.

This excerpt from Thaliad has already been shared in several places, so if you're a regular visitor to my little cluster of huts by the internet stream, you may have seen it. What's the news of Thaliad? Lady Word of Mouth appears to be working slowly and yet steadily on such an unusual item as a 21st-century adventure in verse . . .

Now and then in writing, I was aware of drawing on some prior work. There's one long passage where I felt Anglo-Saxon rhythms and ways of describing, for example. But in this one I felt the presence of Cavafy, and the close of this chapter is indebted to him. Writers are always indebted to those the masters they love who did the work, and occasionally that indebtedness is strong enough to notice and acknowledge.

from XXI, (Samuel and Thalia, after tragic events):

Then Samuel in sorrow vowed to her
Now I will leave and find another place,
A village where my heart is not in earth,
And Thalia replied to him with truth:
There is no other village, is no place
To find where your dead heart is not in earth.
And still he moaned his lot, exclaimed with tears,
I want to go where ground is not a waste,
And where my life is not a ruined town.
And Thalia with mercy answered him:
In time you will begin to heal your heart
And all that seems a waste will bloom once more.
But he went on in anger, blaming God,
The strangers who had maundered into town,
The grave that meant a stone around his neck,
Until she spoke in haste against his words:
For you there is only this blood-drenched ground,
The murdered life that is your freight of guilt,
Also the murdered life that is your own,
The world that you create by how you act
Or see or how you dream the world to be,
Your world that’s ruined everywhere like this,
Which you yourself have caused to be a waste,
Which you yourself have scorched with inner fire.

4 comments:

  1. A searing passage that brought tears to my eyes....

    I plead ignorance of Cadafy but I always had a sense of some ancient connections throughout Thaliad. Interesting really, as you are writing of the future. Or the past such as during wars? ...hmmm.

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  2. Oh, I think that I was more influenced by lively, ancient epics than by anything modern, but here I was definitely influenced by a Cavafy poem... Shall leave a link later--have been up early, rousting my youngest to finish homework.

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  3. Sorry to say that link did not work - a problem with users.hol I think.

    Not sure if you followed my awkwardly written point about how your work is inspired by ancient stories, yet Thaliad seems to be about the future. Then I wondered if it could be set in the past such as in war times. Maybe times have not changed, there are always wars, only ever worse wars. And wars on the environment as in Val/Orson.

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  4. Drat! Just google "The City" and "C. P. Cavafy."

    Yes, I think that's very true... And that wars we have always with us. Certain elements of life remain strong and terrible no matter how things change.

    I do think it's important that "Thaliad" has more of a link to the ancient epics rather than modern things called epics (like Pound's "Cantos," say.)

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Alas, I must once again remind large numbers of Chinese salesmen and other worldwide peddlers that if they fall into the Gulf of Spam, they will be eaten by roaming Balrogs. The rest of you, lovers of grace, poetry, and horses (nod to Yeats--you do not have to be fond of horses), feel free to leave fascinating missives and curious arguments.